x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Hereford has become a home to Arabian horse racing

"Hereford has helped us raise the sport's profile considerably," says racing manager at Arabian Racing Organisation in Britain. Geoffrey Riddle reports.

Mkeefa, ridden by Neil Callan, won The President of the UAE Cup at Newmarket in July 2012.
Mkeefa, ridden by Neil Callan, won The President of the UAE Cup at Newmarket in July 2012.

Dubai International Arabian race day always provides a moment with which to gauge the relative progression or regression of Purebred Arabian racing in Britain.

Eleven months on from last year's event there are signs that the sport is on the up here.

September's rain-affected action saw an attendance of around 5,000 people, which from a high-point of around 18,000 in previous years was a step back for the jewel in the British Arabian racing calendar.

The day was billed as the climax to the British season, but with only 11 standalone meetings, from around 24, in previous years, in reality it was the full stop to a unsatisfying season.

The Arabian Racing Organisation will put on an increased offering this year, however, mainly due to the availability of Hereford Racecourse, which has become the home of Arabian racing since May after falling into financial difficulty when staging thoroughbred races.

Hereford weighed in with six fixtures this season.

"We were not sure how it was going to work out but Hereford has generated a real following and has been really important to us," said Amanda Smith, the racing manager at the Arabian Racing Organisation in Britain.

"It has helped us raise the sport's profile considerably and the media are taking us much more seriously now."

The sport enjoyed a huge boost last month with the news that Arabian racing will be showcased at a British Classic meeting for the first time.

The Group 1 Qatar Racing and Equestrian Club Harwood International Stakes will become the first race for Arabian horses to be staged at Doncaster's St Leger three-day meeting next month.

It underlines the staggering progression made by the sport in 2013.

The £150,000 (Dh850,500) event is easily the most valuable contest for Arabians in Britain - there is £158,000 on offer at Newbury tonight - and on Monday a bumper entry of 34 horses was announced.

Both the President of the UAE Cup and the Sheikh Mansour Festival have had a raised presence on thoroughbred cards in recent times; the Doncaster race will become the 11th Arabian race to be staged on a thoroughbred card in Britain this season.

"The appearance of Arabian races on high profile cards is becoming increasingly commonplace throughout Europe and the rest of the world and we are delighted to be able to support Qatar Racing and Equestrian Club in breaking new ground by providing the stage for this exciting international event," said Mark Spincer, the managing director of Doncaster Racecourse.

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